What does being ‘patient-centric’ in pharma really mean?

Register now http://bit.ly/IQVIAFeb2021-blog The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of life on a global scale. As disruptions often do, it also has accelerated the implementation of solutions that might otherwise still be waiting their turn as future ‘nice-to-haves.’ In 2020, digital transformation of customer engagement was accelerated across the industry, and we expect this […]

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Freespira Secures $10M for FDA-Cleared Digital Therapeutic to Eliminate Panic Attacks, PTSD Symptoms

Freespira Secures $10M for FDA-Cleared Digital Therapeutic to Eliminate Panic Attacks, PTSD Symptoms

What You Should Know:

– Lightspeed Venture Partners, the VC behind Nest and GrubHub, is leading a $10 million round for Freespira, an FDA-cleared digital therapeutic proven to significantly reduce or eliminate panic attacks and PTSD symptoms by training users to normalize respiratory irregularities.

– In 28 days, Freespira can reduce or eliminate panic
attacks and PTSD symptoms from home with just a tablet, sensor, and custom app.
There’s no medicine with possible side effects and no need to see a doctor or
therapist in person.


Freespira, Inc.(formerly
Palo Alto Health Sciences, Inc.), a Kirkland, WA-based maker of the first
FDA-cleared digital therapeutic that significantly reduces or eliminates
symptoms of panic attacks, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) in only 28 days, announced it has completed a $10 million capital raise led
by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Joining
the financing round, the largest in the company’s history, were previous
investors Aphelion Capital, Medvest Capital, and Freespira Chairman,
Russell Siegelman.

Free from Panic Attacks & PTSD in 28 Days

Founded in 2013, Freespira® is the only FDA-cleared digital therapeutic proven
to significantly reduce or eliminate Panic Disorder and PTSD symptoms by
training users to normalize respiratory irregularities in just 28 days. This
4-week medication-free program can be done from the comfort of your home for 17
minutes, twice daily. Treatment is authorized and completed under the
supervision of a licensed healthcare provider and is clinically proven to
reduce or eliminate panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorder. Freespira
uses a custom sensor to train patients to stabilize their respiration rate and
exhaled carbon dioxide levels, thereby reducing or eliminating panic attacks
and PTSD symptoms.

Recent Peer-Reviewed Studies

Numerous peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated the
clinical effectiveness and cost savings of the Freespira solution, including:

– A clinical trial conducted at the VA Palo Alto Health Care
System in Palo Alto, Calif. demonstrated the efficacy of Freespira for veterans
and non-veterans suffering from PTSD. Significant reductions in measures of
PTSD severity were achieved by 85% of subjects post-treatment, with half of
subjects reporting remission scores six months post-treatment. Patient
satisfaction was 84% at six months post-treatment, and mean patient adherence
to the treatment protocol was 77%. 

– A large multi-center trial conducted by David Tolin, PhD,
Director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living, and Adjunct
Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, found that
Freespira produced a clinically significant reduction in panic symptoms 12
months post-treatment in 82% of subjects, with 84% adherence and 88% patient
satisfaction.

– A study led by Alicia Kaplan, MD at the Allegheny Health
Network in Pittsburgh found that use of Freespira not only resulted in 91% of
patients reporting significant reduction in symptoms at 12-months but also
significant cost savings for the patients’ insurance provider, Highmark Blue
Cross Blue Shield. These included a 65% reduction in emergency department
costs; a 68% reduction in pharmacy costs; and a 35% reduction in total medical
costs for treatment of the study subjects. 

“We’re honored that Lightspeed, one of Silicon Valley’s premier venture firms, has joined our existing investors to help speed the commercialization of Freespira to benefit the millions of people who suffer from panic attacks and PTSD, including veterans, first responders, and increasingly, frontline healthcare workers,” said Dean Sawyer, Chief Executive Officer of Freespira. “Now that we have accumulated overwhelming evidence of the clinical and cost effectiveness of Freespira and achieved FDA clearance for its use treating both panic disorder and PTSD, we believe health plans and employers across the country will support the use of Freespira for their members and employees.”

4 Ways to Combat Hidden Costs Associated with Delayed Patient Care During COVID-19

Matt Dickson, VP, Product, Strategy, and Communication Solutions at Stericycle
Matt Dickson, VP, Product, Strategy, and Communication Solutions at Stericycle

COVID-19 terms such as quarantine, flatten the curve, social distance, and personal protective equipment (PPE) have dominated headlines in recent months, but what hasn’t been discussed in length are the hidden costs of COVID-19 as it relates to patient adherence.  

The coronavirus pandemic has amplified this long-standing issue in healthcare as patients are delaying routine preventative and ongoing care for ailments such as mental health and chronic disease. Emergency care is also suffering at alarming rates. Studies show a 42 percent decline in emergency department visits, measuring the volume of 2.1 million visits per week between March and April 2019 to 1.2 million visits per week between March and April 2020. Patients are not seeking the treatment they need – and at what cost?

When the SARS outbreak occurred in 2002, particularly in Taiwan, there was a marked reduction in inpatient care and utilization as well as ambulatory care. Chronic-care hospitalizations for long-term conditions like diabetes plummeted during the SARS crisis but skyrocketed afterward. Similar to the 2002 epidemic, people are currently not venturing en masse to emergency rooms or hospitals, but if history repeats itself, hospital and ER visits will happen at an influx and create a new strain on the healthcare system.

So, if patients aren’t going to the ER or visiting their doctors regularly, where have they gone? They are staying at home. According to reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 28 percent of Americans polled said they or a family member delayed medical care due to the pandemic, and 11 percent indicated that their condition worsened as a result of the delayed care. Of note, 70 percent of consumers are concerned or very concerned about contracting COVID-19 when visiting healthcare facilities to receive care unrelated to the virus. There is a growing concern that patients will either see a relapse in their illness or will experience new complications when the pandemic subsides. 

Rather than brace for a tidal wave of patients, healthcare systems should proactively take steps (or act now) to drive patient access, action, and adherence.

1. Identify Who Needs to Care The Most 

Healthcare providers should consider risk stratifying patients. High-risk people, such as an 80-year-old male with comorbidities and recent cardiac bypass surgery, may require a hands-on and frequent outreach effort. A 20-year-old female, however, who comes in annually for her physical but is healthy, may not require that level of engagement. Understanding which patients are at risk for the potential for chronic conditions to become acute or patients who have a hard time staying on their care plan may need prioritized attention and a more thorough engagement effort. 

For example, patients with a history of mental health issues may lack motivation or momentum to seek care. Their disposition to be disengaged may require greater input to push past their disengagement.  

Especially important is the ability to educate and guide patients to the appropriate venue of care (ER, telehealth visit, in-person primary care visit, or urgent care) based on their self-reported symptoms.  Allowing patients to self-triage while scheduling appointments helps them make more informed decisions about their care while reducing the burden on over-utilized emergency departments.

2. Capture The Attention of The Intended Audience and Induce Action

Once you’ve identified who needs care the most, how do you break through the “information clutter” to ensure healthcare messages resonate with the intended audience? The more data points, the better. It is important to understand the age of the patient, their preferred communication channel, and the intended message for the recipient, but effective communication exceeds those three data points. Consider factors like the presence of mental health conditions, comorbidities, or health literacies. Then, think beyond the patient’s channel of choice and select the appropriate channel of communication (text, phone call, email, paid social media advertisement, etc.), that will most likely induce action. As an organization, also consider running A/B tests to detect and analyze behavior. As you collect more data, determine what exactly is inducing patient action. 

Of note, don’t underestimate the power of repetition. Patients may need to be reminded of the intended action a few times in a few different ways before moving forward with seeking the care they need. Repetition is also shown to decrease no-show rates, a critical metric. Proactive, prescriptive, and tailored communication will help increase engagement. Moving past the channel of choice and toward the channel of action is key.

3. Engage Patients Through Personalized and Tailored Communication 

In addition to identifying the right communication channel, it’s also important to ensure you deliver an effective message.  Communication with patients should be relevant to their particular medical needs while paying close attention to where each person is in their healthcare journey. Connecting with patients on both an emotional and rational level is also important. For example, sending a positive communication via phone, email, or text to lay the foundation for the interaction shows interest in the patient’s wellbeing. 

A “Hey, here’s why you need to come in” note makes a connection in a direct and personalized way. At the same time, and in a very pointed manner, sharing ways providers and health systems are keeping patients safe (e.g., telehealth, virtual waiting rooms, separate entrances, and mandating masks), also provides comfort to skittish patients. Additionally, consider all demographic information when tailoring communications. And don’t forget to analyze if changes in content impact no-show rates. Low overall literacy may impact health literacy and may require simpler and more positive words to positively impact adherence. 

It may sound daunting, especially for individual health systems, to personalize patient communication efforts, but the use of today’s data tools and technological advancements can relieve the burden and streamline efforts for an effective communication approach. 

4. Use Technology to Your Advantage (With Caution)

Once you have developed your communication strategy, don’t stop there.  Consider all aspects of the patient journey to drive action.  A virtual waiting room strategy, for example, can help ease patient concerns and encourage them to resume their care. Health systems can help patients make reservations, space out their arrival times, and safeguard social distancing measures—all while alleviating patient fears. Ideally, the patient would be able to seamlessly book an appointment and receive a specific arrival time, allowing ER staff to prepare for the patient’s arrival while minimizing onsite wait time.

When implemented properly, telehealth visits can also improve continuity of care, enhance provider efficiency, attract and retain patients who are seeking convenience, as well as appeal to those who would prefer not to travel to their healthcare facility for their visit. Providers need to determine which appointments can successfully be resolved virtually. Additionally, some patients might not have the means for a successful telehealth visit due to a lack of internet access, a language barrier, or a safe space to talk freely.

To ensure all patients receive quality care, health systems should make plans to serve patients who lack the technology or bandwidth to participate in video visits in an alternative manner. For example, monitor patients remotely by asking them to self-report basic information such as blood sugar levels, weight, and medication compliance via short message service (SMS). This gives providers the ability to continuously monitor their patients while enhancing patient safety, increasing positive outcomes, and enabling real-time escalation whenever clinical intervention is needed.

It is important we ensure all patients stay on track with their health, despite uncertain and fearful times. Health systems can enhance patient adherence and induce action through the implementation of tools that increase patient engagement and alleviate the impending strain on the healthcare system. 


About Matt Dickson

Matt Dickson is Vice President of Product, Strategy, and General Manager of Stericycle Communication Solutions, a patient engagement platform that seamlessly combines both voice and digital channels to provide the modern experience healthcare consumers want while solving complex challenges to patient access, action, and adherence. . He is a versatile leader with strong operational management experience and expertise providing IT, product, and process solutions in the healthcare industry for nearly 25 years. Find him on LinkedIn.

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

Abbott recently released global research on vascular patient care, designed to shine a light on the vascular patient journey. The report called “Beyond Intervention” uncovers the universal challenges faced by physicians who deliver vascular care, their patients, and the hospital administrators who support them. It also explores how the right use of technology and data could potentially enable more precise diagnoses and better treatment strategies to ensure the best possible patient outcomes. 

To establish what the state of vascular care looks like around the world today, Abbott surveyed over 1,400 patients, physicians, and health system administrators from nine countries. 

The research revealed how important personalized care is for patients. This was a sentiment that came through loud and clear from all the patients surveyed, regardless of geography. Patients desire more of a “tailored for me” approach from their physicians. This includes more face-to-face interaction and time with their doctor, with the ability to have all of their questions addressed.

Likewise, doctors sighted a scarcity of time spent with their patients as well as their limited visibility into patient adherence to treatment and lifestyle changes and challenges with other key factors that influence the quality of care they can provide.

What exactly does more personalized care look like? Here are some of the ideas that resonated with the vascular patients who responded to the survey:

– A consultative, two-way patient-doctor relationship, with the patient playing an active role in informed decision-making

– An individualized treatment plan based on the doctor’s ability to review relevant data pertaining to successes achieved with similar patients (“How did patients like me get better?”)

– Effective and seamless information-sharing among the primary care provider, hospital specialists, and healthcare systems, as well as with individual patients themselves via computer or smart applications.

– The ability for the doctor to monitor the patient’s progress remotely and provide information to verify that the personalized treatment is working, and to pick up early warning signs of relapse or deterioration

If more personalized care is what patients desire, then how can the use of technology and data enable this? We already see signs of this in the form of telemedicine and personalized care plans used to treat patients with chronic disease. We have also seen remote patient monitoring become a necessity and, in the age of COVID-19, a new standard of care, keeping patients “connected” with their physicians. This suggests that health care is moving in the right direction. Rather than simply treating the patient at a point in time for an illness, technology has the potential to harness the power of data to optimize care across the entire patient journey – before, during, and after the intervention. By focusing on the whole patient, and by placing him or her at the center of the healthcare world, providers can see beyond the intervention alone. 

The survey also revealed that hospital administrators’ top priority focused on patient satisfaction; successful outcomes that boost the number of satisfied and healthy patients while reducing hospital readmissions and costs. The results showed that administrators place a greater priority on plugging data gaps pertaining to outcomes than the total cost of care.

If the intention is to build data-driven technological solutions that see the whole patient, that could shift the focus from illness and intervention to wellness and prevention, potentially lightening the burden on providers, and delivering a higher quality of life for patients, also at a lower cost. 

The existing model of care is clearly not working to its full potential, to the detriment of everyone who must navigate it. But overhauling a healthcare system that is so entrenched in structure and institutional practices is not something that can happen overnight. Change will happen incrementally with the input of all stakeholders. It is up to us in the world of medical devices and technology to take our cues from the medical community, patient advocates, and healthcare systems big and small.

The research motivates us to continuously improve upon what we have already delivered and ask ourselves how we can make our products even better. Without knowledge of their pain points or insights into the challenges they face daily, we would not be able to effectively meet patients’ needs. This research also reinforces what Abbott is consistently striving to achieve: building life-changing technologies to improve the patient’s quality of life and help them live their best lives.

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

Webinar – A Pragmatic Approach to Patient Support Program Design — Implement Technology at the Right Time to Deliver Greater Program and Patient Insight

Sponsored by Covance Watch now Technology is often touted as a silver bullet, but often the promise falls short of the unrealistic expectation of a tech driven utopia. Knowing when to deploy which technologies requires a pragmatism that balances technology with people and processes to deliver the right balance of efficiency and risk. This session […]

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